A feat of engineering is responsible for the circular structure in the Tulsa skyline.
Today’s architects routinely use computers to design buildings, but few probably know the first such structure was Tulsa’s now venerable University Club tower.
In 1964, Oklahoma engineer Fred Gauger created a tower that was the first of its kind in the United States. Using state-of-the-art computers to solve hundreds of complex equations simultaneously, Gauger designed the University Club in a mere 27 minutes.
These new tech tools and methods allowed the designer to bypass several years of work, which would have traditionally been done by hand at a drawing board.
Construction took three years and cost $7 million. Located at 1722 S. Carson Ave., University Club tower opened on Nov. 19, 1967, and immediately welcomed occupants.
Affectionately called “the pie in the sky,” the 320-foot building remains largely residential, with 32 floors and 236 apartments that range from 700-1,300 square feet. One of the original tenants still lives in the building, says Property Manager Carla Doherty.
“The building is round so every apartment is shaped like a piece of pie,” she says. “The windows are the crust.”
University Club challenged architectural norms of the era, and its long-standing tagline is “Four walls are square. Break out of a square and live in a round.”
Current amenities include an indoor Olympic-size heated pool, a 24-hour fitness center and lighted tennis courts. Attorneys’ offices, a chiropractor and a salon also are located in the building.
Most residents of the near-capacity University Club are active, and many have a “creative vibe” as writers, artists or musicians, Doherty says. She guesses 10-15 percent of the University Club’s residents have lived there 20-30 years.
The site of the University Club tower was previously home to a mansion built in approximately 1914 by early Tulsa oilman Joshua Cosden. The home had an indoor pool and lighted tennis courts, according to the Tulsa Preservation Commission.